You're this many!

>> Monday, January 3, 2011

Four? Already??

It just doesn’t seem possible. It passed in the blink of an eye, and yet, when I think of all you’ve been through it seems it must have been decades.

For one so small baby girl you seem so damn strong…

I might not have been able to protect from all around you but I promise with everything I am that the bond between us can't be broken.

Just look over your shoulder...
I'll be there always baby.


An Ounce of Prevention - When an ounce can make ALL the difference

>> Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today is National Prematurity Awareness Day. As part of the effort to raise awareness the March of Dimes has invited bloggers to join the fight and share a post related to prematurity. While I haven’t been able to read every post yet there are some truly amazing and awe inspiring stories there. Some truly heartbreaking ones also. What you won’t find just yet is Cassie’s story. There are several reasons beginning with the fact that I just can’t write it yet. Almost four years later and the words really still don’t come. I wonder if they ever will.

There is, however, a story that I can share. A story that is decidedly less than awe inspiring but one that I hope can have a positive effect despite the pain and shame involved.

You see, I am NOT one of those Moms who did everything right and had a baby born early through no fault of her own. Cassie’s early birth was my fault. I smoked, had high blood pressure, and did not stop working when my doctors urged me to. Shocking isn’t it? I mean we all know there are some women who treat pregnancy that way, but they are the low income, undereducated, disadvantaged, “welfare” moms right?? “Those” moms. Not a college educated woman who grew up in the “right” neighborhood, went to the “right” private schools, who has insurance and access to the best of care??? THAT kind of Mom would never risk the health of a child like that!....Would she?

And yet it was all so easy. I mean I had smoked since I was 11 years old. I’d already had three perfectly healthy boys despite being a smoker and it wasn’t like I smoked much – just a few cigarettes a day. That’s not really that bad is it? The same went for my blood pressure. Yes I had had issues with my blood pressure during each of my pregnancies but my kids were perfectly healthy and nothing bad happened right? And stop working?? Were they kidding me? I felt FINE and who was going to feed my family and keep a roof over their head? This was just all a case of the doctors being cautious and covering their asses wasn’t it? Since I felt fine it was just all so easy to gloss over and dismiss.

Until it wasn’t.

That day was January 4,2007, 25.1 weeks into my pregnancy. By this point I had given in and taken leave from work but because I wanted to spend the holidays with my family I had insisted there was no reason to be hospitalized if I tracked my own blood pressure and saw the high risk OB as often as she wanted. On the fourth she sent me for a detailed ultrasound. I was sooo ridiculously excited! You would not have believed my completely naïve joy at finding out that we were having a girl! Our fourth child was going to be a girl!

And then suddenly (to me anyway, not so suddenly to my medical team I’m sure) things began to circle the drain. The doctor viewing the ultrasound determined that the blood flow in Cass’s umbilical cord was reversing, and that she hadn’t grown since the last ultrasound. They sent us to the hospital where they began to monitor and it was determined that things were going to happen soon. The doctors talked to us and began what was supposed to be the first of several steroid shots to help mature Cass’s lungs over the next few weeks in case she came early. When they left the cubicle after explaining all this Mike and I sat in stunned silence and then began discussing how we were going to t handle me being admitted for a few weeks only to have the team come running back in because they Cass had started to fail. We were on our way to the OR so quickly that almost everything else is a blur. The few things I remember clearly though are forever etched in my soul. The neonatologist that came in to give the emergency run down of what we could expect saying that Cass was measuring so small that they simply did not know if she would even be big enough for them to tube her.

Her final words were “It really all is going to depend on your daughter”

Depend on my daughter? No! It wasn’t supposed to depend on my daughter! I was the one who was supposed to be carrying her and keeping her safe! Wait…Oh no…I was the one charged with keeping her safe and I freaking failed! I didn’t pay attention. I thought I was exempt! No! Stop! PLEASE don’t let this be happening!! I’m SORRY – I didn’t understand! I’ll do it better now!

The problem is that in real life this story doesn’t end with me waking up, throwing open the windows, and shouting my joy at my newfound lease on life and second chance. In real life a 1lb 3oz child is born fighting for every breath. In real life we spend months hanging over an isolette begging our daughter to live one more minute – take just one more breath. That’s where my story ends and Cassie’s begins.

Why do I share this now on Prematurity Awareness Day? Why not share Cassie’s incredible success due in such a large part to the research supported by the March of Dimes? Because if we are truly going to “Fight for Preemies” then we need to support the MOD’s most important mission. Their mission to educate and help PREVENT prematurity. Prevent it so that no child has to fight the fight that Cassie and so many other children fight. Prevent it so that no parent is EVER left with empty arms due to prematurity.

I would love to be that Mom who did everything right and just had a baby prematurely due to circumstances beyond her control. I’d give anything to have held Cassie to term and not have dealt with prematurity at all.

Before people respond with reassurances that there’s no way to be sure my actions caused Cassie to come early, that I’m a great Mom and need to forgive myself…I know and I have. After everything else she has been through and will struggle with Cass does NOT need a mother wallowing in guilt. But forgiving myself is not the same as denying responsibility. There were things that I did and decisions I made that contributed to Cass’s early birth. The doctors never really did give me a full explanation. It could have been my undiagnosed heart issues (I had a heart attack several months later), my body could have reacted badly to all the blood pressure meds I was on etc… More than likely it was a combination of all of those things. Quitting smoking or taking leave earlier might not have guaranteed I brought Cassie to full term but it could have added a few days or weeks and a few more ounces and that would have made a world of difference in her struggle.

So my hope in sharing this today is that we all give consideration to the fact ALL prospective parents need to be educated on how to care for themselves and their future children, and ALL parents need to fully understand the risks involved. The education and outreach that is such a strong part of the mission of the March of Dimes isn’t only meant for the welfare office or the crack addict down the street. It is meant for your sister, your wife, and your best friend. If you know and love someone who seems to mistakenly believe it doesn’t mean them, that they know what they are doing, please share my story with them.


The Ghandi Experiment - BE the change…

>> Friday, October 1, 2010

I am SO freaking tired.

I’m tired of feeling annoyed. I’m tired of feeling outraged at the latest injustice directed my way. I’m tired of my first reaction being snarky. I’m tired of assuming the other person is stupid or out to get me. I’m tired of feeling underappreciated and undervalued. I am so damn tired of so often seeing the bad instead of the beauty.

One of my favorite quotes is from Ghandi who said: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

I also firmly believe that my outlook and my intention go a long way toward determining my reality. If I make an effort to see the beauty then it will be there. If I try to see past the offense I might find that the offense was never there or in the least that it was not intended. What if (gasp!) it was never even about me to begin with? (I know right?!?)

In order to be the change that I wish to see in my life I am going to commit to one month of documenting that change. At least once a day for the month of October I am going to strive to find an opportunity to assume the best about someone, to respond from a place of security rather than defensiveness, to ask “How can I help?” rather than snarl “It’s not my job!”. I’ll try to assume someone is busy rather than ignoring me, or having a bad day rather than trying to ruin mine. I’ll recognize that the other person is at least trying rather than roll my eyes at their stupidity. I’ll then post it as my Facebook status at the end of each day.

I’m hoping that this will become habit and that pushing aside the negative and seeking out the positive will enable me to begin seeing the positive to begin with.

Because there’s just so very much of it to see…


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